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Phones and Programs can Boost Medication Adherence in Young Patients

Update Date: Nov 14, 2014 09:38 AM EST

People with chronic illnesses must take their medications diligently in order to maintain their health. Despite the importance to adhering to a medication regimen, many young patients continue to use their medications incorrectly. Now, two new studies have examined ways to improve medication adherence.

In the first study, the team headed by Frederick Kaskel, MD, PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Oleh Akchurin, MD, from Weill Cornell College of Medicine, interviewed young patients from a pediatric kidney center. Overall, the majority of them used very traditional methods of taking their medication, such as pillboxes.

The team found that about 50 percent of teen patients used cell phones to remind them to take their medications even though 93 percent of them had a cell phone. Only 29 percent of them knew that there were medical apps available. The researchers found that boys were more likely than girls to use their phones. The team concluded that the use of smart phones could boost medication adherence in teens.

"This study demonstrates that a number of inner city teenagers with kidney disorders are utilizing their cell phones for the management of medication administration even in the absence of organized program promoting such use," said Dr. Akchurin according to the press release. "Further research efforts are required to fully describe the contemporary pattern of smart phone-based technology use in medication adherence in this population in order to allow health care providers a meaningful way to incorporate these existing practices into daily clinical activity."

In the other study, the research team examined how kidney transplant recipients cared for their new organ. The patients were between the ages of 17 and 30. The researchers found that transplant recipients who were a part of the Young Adult Service were four times less likely to experience a loss of function in their donated organ. The service, which is made up of a physician, nurse practitioner and youth worker, helps patients with their social life through activities and gatherings, such as sports and bowling.

"Young adult patients are at a critical point in their educational, psychological, and professional development that will shape their future life. Increasing the survival of their transplants will lead to higher levels of education and employment rates, which will be financially beneficial to society," said researcher Paul Harden, FRCP from Oxford University Hospital, in the UK.

Both studies were presented at the ASN Kidney Week 2014.

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